The crossover, with tightly toleranced components, extends over two circuit boards mounted on the inside of the side panels at the height of the DPC unit. The circuitry has been designed for the highest possible phase linearity and passes on to the low-midrange driver at 1.2 kilohertz. Whether the S4b should be called a 2.5 or a 3-way system is debatable, but the manufacturer declares the S4b as a 3-way design. The 180 mm cone driver was also developed in-house, its extremely thin diaphragm suspended in a round rubber surround is made of several layers of carbon fibre. In view of the larger diaphragm and the forces acting here - especially considering the closed cabinet - a different, even stiffer fibre braid is used here than for the domes. Time to “put the S4b on the track”.
If you decide to place the speakers on the optional stands, as already mentioned, you can give the speakers about one and a half metres of space to the side walls. In most rooms, the distance to the rear wall should be similar to the one in our listening room: we recommend not exceeding a distance of about 60 centimetres, so that the S4b gets some support from the rear wall in the lower octaves.
Since the distributor has provided us with a pair that has already completed its break-in, we can start to listen in earnest after allowing for the speakers to play in the background for some hours, beginning with the brand new album by the Matthew Shipp Trio. With its intellectual component, “World Construct” is entirely in the pianist‘s creative tradition, but not least the new line-up with Michael Bisio on bass and Newman Taylor Baker on drums provides fresh accents. In addition, flowing melodic arcs connect the numerous set pieces here; however, they are mostly subtly interwoven and want to be brought to light. The S4b introduces the listener to the context as a matter of course with his rhythmically agile, at the same time sensitive way of playing, and even more: In “Jazz Posture”, he finds the balance between the musicians‘ calm and exuberant actions, frees this composition from any unwieldiness thanks to his sovereign overview and reveals its charm. In doing so, he places piano, bass and drums on a credibly dimensioned stage that is almost strikingly effortless to hear through. And when Newman Taylor Baker introduces the track “Beyond Understanding” with an improvisation on the cymbals, the splendidly gleaming brass plates seem to fade away endlessly.
A large orchestral recording is now to show how the small Perlisten loudspeaker handles complex events on a large stage: the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, plays the Symphonic Dances by Rachmaninoff. Here, too, the S4b easily maintains an overview, accurately arranging all instrument groups on a very spacious stage. Dynamically, this compact speaker outgrows its dimensions at higher volumes, the S4b can really convey the orchestra‘s energy and in the third movement the timpani rumble with all their menacing force. Then the string section makes you sit up and take notice: I have never heard the violins’ and the violas’ timbre so clearly distinguished from each other in this recording. The S4b presents itself here as an analytical tool par excellence and at the same time acts in a highly musical way by unfolding a true splendour of timbre. It lends the cellos their creamy, sonorous character and endows violins with a radiance that makes the eyes moisten: they emerge at just the right moment, splendid and sublime, dazzling and flawless. Moreover, the S4b‘s almost lucid performance even makes it possible to discern the contours of individual instrument bodies in the rows of strings.
Lady Gaga sang alongside the great entertainer Tony Bennett in 2014 for a joint album (“Cheek to Cheek”) - a great musical event, excellently produced to boot. “Love For Sale” is to follow in October of this year; in the meantime, one can enjoy the duet‘s performance of the ballad “But Beautiful” full of anticipation. While the pop icon demonstrates her vocal versatility here and brings her style to this classic, the S4b fascinates with a vocal reproduction that only a few speakers can achieve so authentically: The vocals of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga are not only reproduced in the right proportions and with razor-sharp focus, every note has that certain something that makes them seem almost physically present. Change of scene after this atmospheric performance: The techno track “Fuori” from the current album “She Sleeps” by Deborah De Luca is an excellent way to test the all-terrain capabilities of the little S4b. After cranking up, another spirited turn of the volume knob follows, but the Perlisten is still unimpressed and turns our listening room into a club, at a volume that elsewhere would call the neighbours on the scene. The S4b acts without any dynamic limitation and delivers the deep bass loops dry as dust, powerful and with ultra-precise contours. Congratulations to Perlisten: The S4b is an awesome speaker!